E3 2011 Viewpoints: Nintendo Wii U and 3DS | (yes, Nintendo's next console is pronounced, "We You")

Bill Loguidice's picture

After starting off with Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, it's only fitting we conclude with Nintendo, and the biggest announcement of the week: Nintendo Wii U. I'll also talk about how my predictions from April 19, 2011, based on previous rumors, worked out, inline, as appropriate (EDIT: You can read for yourself, actually, so I won't inline comment, I'll just say that I was correct in my prediction that the controller would be the ONLY innovation, in that any other expected innovations would add too much to the cost beyond the fancy controller):

  • Nintendo Wii U, "equally satisfying for all players" (hardcore and casual). Released some time in 2012 (Nintendo's focus this year is 3DS, with more franchise titles (Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion)). I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name. I probably like it even less than I did "Wii", which did eventually grow on me. We'll see.
  • The controller looks a lot like a white tablet. It's generously sized (it has a 6.2" screen--goodness knows what the controller will be priced separately!). Pen-enabled. Also works with a finger. The screen (mock-up or not), looks very nice. It's a motion controller too and can play games stand-alone or in conjunction with a TV. It also has a camera (voice and video chat enabled). Nice!
  • Nintendo definitely took inspiration from Apple's iPad here. It's like the bastard child of an iPad 2 and Wii, with a little Xbox 360 thrown in for good measure.
  • It's backwards compatible with all the games and peripherals of the Wii.
  • Games appear to work differently if a player is using the new controller or a Wii Remote. There looks to be a lot of emphasis on the motion control features of the controller.
  • It's NOT designed to be a portable game machine, even though it shares some design characteristics. Everything is wirelessly transmitted from the console (no latency).
  • They talked a lot about HD images on TV or on the controller's screen. So this is definitely HD (EDIT: The console will output 1080p to the TV, but the controller screen will NOT be HD). Based on the non-gameplay and other graphics they showed, it's quite impressive looking, so probably at LEAST a little more powerful than Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • The Nunchuk port on the bottom of the controller is interesting, as it can also be used to snap the screen controller onto plastic peripherals.
  • They emphasized video chat and showing photos on your TV.
  • They talked about the expected interaction between Wii U and 3DS games, with Smash Brothers being the example.
  • They mentioned ONE game in particular (third parties mentioned others, like Batman: Arkham City and EA Sports stuff), Lego City Stories, a new open world game (exclusive to Wii U and 3DS). Beyond that, they made sure to mention what would be considered hardcore (core) gamer titles.
  • They talked a bit about online stuff, so hopefully they'll be more committed to the concept this time. The hardware is certainly there for it, at least.
  • There was no mention of storage or other specifics, so we'll probably have quite the wait for details like that.

As for the 3DS:

  • Nothing special here outside of the usual future game releases (which, like the other platforms, are what they are), but Nintendo did release the 3DS Web browser and activate its online store yesterday, which they talked about again today. They even included a free Pokemon 3D viewer and a temporarily free 3D version of the original Excitebike. I'll report back when I have a chance to put in some quality time with them.
  • There was brief mention of 3D updates perhaps via the 3DS Virtual Console of retro console software, "even before the NES". There was stuff before the NES?

So what do I think of the Wii U? Outside of the lame name, I think the core concepts and ideas are great if they can be executed smoothly. As more specifics are revealed in the coming months, I'll definitely provide further thoughts, but first impressions are quite good. The backwards compatibility thing is certainly appreciated as well, though I wonder if that extends all the way back to the GameCube?

So, there you have it. All the Microsoft, Sony, Apple, and Nintendo updates in their own respective blog posts. Let's hear your own thoughts in the comments!

Comments

Rob Daviau
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Interesting.

Just watched the WiiU video showing the controller uses. Of course when I watch things like this I think wow that looks pretty cool, I loved the drawing concept and the games interaction throwing the Ninja stars and Hitting the Golf ball etc. As always though how much they actually end up supporting these concepts will be key. As I watch I cannot help but wonder how this controller might add to gameplay in survivor Horror or FPS titles. Lastly, if it does well and consumer reaction is strong then I guess we will see how Microsoft and Sony copy the ideas and concepts while calling it something else and acting like they came up with it lol.

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Bill Loguidice
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Speculation
Rob Daviau wrote:

I guess we will see how Microsoft and Sony copy the ideas and concepts while calling it something else and acting like they came up with it lol.

Well, they're all guilty of that, Nintendo included. It's what smart companies do.

What I'm most curious about myself at this stage is how much one of these controllers will cost outside of the one bundled with the console. That's probably a $99 controller. Realistically I don't see how it can be any more than that. If we assume that the console portion is just a little more powerful than a 360 or PS3, you're talking an easy $200 system price, and if you add in the controller, Nintendo might be able to squeak by with a $249 price point, though $299 is probably their target.

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TripHamer
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That's about what I'm thinking
Bill Loguidice wrote:
Rob Daviau wrote:

I guess we will see how Microsoft and Sony copy the ideas and concepts while calling it something else and acting like they came up with it lol.

Well, they're all guilty of that, Nintendo included. It's what smart companies do.

What I'm most curious about myself at this stage is how much one of these controllers will cost outside of the one bundled with the console. That's probably a $99 controller. Realistically I don't see how it can be any more than that. If we assume that the console portion is just a little more powerful than a 360 or PS3, you're talking an easy $200 system price, and if you add in the controller, Nintendo might be able to squeak by with a $249 price point, though $299 is probably their target.

$99 - $129 max for the controller......$300 for the bundle.

Oh, when I saw the title to this thread and saw the "We You"...I thought "We {insert 4 letter word here beginning with 'F'} You"

Or just replace the We with that same 4 letter word.....Hum...I wonder if they thought of it when think up the name or approving it? :)

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Bill Loguidice
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That awful name...
TripHamer wrote:

Oh, when I saw the title to this thread and saw the "We You"...I thought "We {insert 4 letter word here beginning with 'F'} You"

Or just replace the We with that same 4 letter word.....Hum...I wonder if they thought of it when think up the name or approving it? :)

I've said it many times today already and I'll say it again, I'm NOT digging that name. I really didn't like the "Wii" name either, but I have to admit, it grew on me and clearly worked for them. "Wii U" just seems lazy and kind of sing-songy, but I suppose the latter makes it catchy. Ultimately though I suppose the name doesn't really matter as as long as it plays Nintendo IP's, it should do well regardless...

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Nous
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$299 at a minimum ...

$299 at a minimum ... possibly more!

I don't see how the controller will sell for anything less than $99 either .. maybe more actually!

As for the system being "a little more powerful than 360/PS3" ... that's an irrelevant statement! There is no such thing. It's either going to be many times more powerful SO THAT the user perception is that of an "incremental" improvement in power/performance/graphics/etc ... or if it's actually only a little bit more powerful (IF) .. then the end user experience is going to be identical .. it might as well NOT be any more powerful basically because nobody will notice and it'll only make it more expensive!

I am really curious to see what the final price will be for this thing, and what the price of the 360 and PS3 will be whenever it comes out.

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Bill Loguidice
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Pricing
Nous wrote:

As for the system being "a little more powerful than 360/PS3" ... that's an irrelevant statement! There is no such thing. It's either going to be many times more powerful SO THAT the user perception is that of an "incremental" improvement in power/performance/graphics/etc ... or if it's actually only a little bit more powerful (IF) .. then the end user experience is going to be identical .. it might as well NOT be any more powerful basically because nobody will notice and it'll only make it more expensive!

I stand by at least a "little more powerful", simply because we're talking a mid- to late-2012 release for the thing. There's no reason to gimp it by matching Xbox 360/PS3 power. At minimum they can match and slightly exceed, without breaking the bank. The year headstart they're likely to have over PS4 or Xbox 360-2 would be silly if all they had to rely on to combat those next-gen systems was the funky controller. My guess right now is $99 for the stand-alone controller, maybe $129 in a game bundle that Nintendo likes to do, and probably $299 for the console. They're saving money by having modest flash storage included with the system and using a proprietary high capacity disc format rather than BluRay. In that way I think they can squeeze a bit more power out of the console and include that crazy controller for the $299 and still make a profit on each system.

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Nous
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I can tell you that nothing

I can tell you that nothing they showed looked better than 360/PS3 !!

I think you misunderstood my point though; EVEN if this is "slightly" (i.e. NOT 5-10 times) faster/better than PS3/360, it won't be perceptible! In order for us to perceive an incremental difference, a noticeable improvement, it has to be MANY times better (and we see it as "incremental" - even though it may be significant and cost a LOT more to make) ... a "slight" improvement will BOTH compromise price points/margins AND won't make any difference, none that anyone would be able to see anyway.

Let me give you a relatively extreme example; say this is 100% faster than PS3 ... it will cost MORE .. and you will STILL not be able to tell the difference in the vast majority of cases. You'd need to be a LOT faster in order to actually be able to consistently see a difference ...

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TripHamer
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Close enough is good enough.
Nous wrote:

Let me give you a relatively extreme example; say this is 100% faster than PS3 ... it will cost MORE .. and you will STILL not be able to tell the difference in the vast majority of cases. You'd need to be a LOT faster in order to actually be able to consistently see a difference ...

So obviously, close enough, but not more, will be good enough and produce basically the same results anyway and without adding unnecessary cost to the system. Hopefully bringing it into the $300 USD price range.

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Bill Loguidice
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Clarifying
TripHamer wrote:
Nous wrote:

Let me give you a relatively extreme example; say this is 100% faster than PS3 ... it will cost MORE .. and you will STILL not be able to tell the difference in the vast majority of cases. You'd need to be a LOT faster in order to actually be able to consistently see a difference ...

So obviously, close enough, but not more, will be good enough and produce basically the same results anyway and without adding unnecessary cost to the system. Hopefully bringing it into the $300 USD price range.

By slightly better, that could just mean smoother frame rates, higher polygon counts, etc., i.e., basically what you get with a present high end PC versus what you get on the Xbox 360/PS3. In order to pull that off, you wouldn't need 100% more power. Again, it's easy enough to argue that even with 100% more performance than 360/PS3, the average person still won't notice an obvious difference. We're already at 1080p resolutions and full digital surround. That's why this generation has lasted so long and will continue to last for at least another few years.

So again, I'll assume the Wii U will be at least slightly more powerful than 360/PS3. Whether that's "obvious" is irrelevant.

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TripHamer
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Shorten it.

I'm already calling it the 'U'.

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